Readers in Minnesota and Pennsylvania offer advice on buying tax delinquent properties in their respective states.
Dear MOTHER EARTH NEWS,
According to the Minnesota Volunteer Magazine, there are over one million acres of tax delinquent properties (wooded, not waterfront) available in St. Louis County, Minnesota alone, to say nothing of nearby Itasca, Cass, and Aitkin counties. This land usually sells for $5 to $15 an acre, and for only a little more if it's covered with marketable timber or adjoins a road.
To buy such acreage, you must make at least a 30% down
payment and pay 4% interest on the balance. The
first taxes due on land purchased now would be 1972 taxes
(payable in 1973).
For further details, contact the land commissioner in the
county that interests you most (he also has information on
private land for sale). An especially good man to get in
touch with, we found, is Land Commissioner William Marshall
in Grand Rapids (Itasca County), Minnesota.
I haven't seen any of this land yet, but I'm on my way.
Sleepy Eye, Minn.
Dear MOTHER EARTH NEWS,
Here's some information on back tax sales (for Pennsylvania, but probably more-or-less applicable for other states, too) which is still a good way to get inexpensive land.
The counties in my state handle all these tax sales and
group them into two classes. The first is a "tax claim
sale" (usually held twice a year), which is an auction with
the minimum bid being the amount of back taxes due. The new
owner is responsible for all liens, assessments, mortgages
— in short, debts on the property. It's a good idea to
have a professional title search made on land bought at one
of these auctions.
Acreage may also be purchased at what is called "judicial sales." These auctions are also held twice a year and a minimum bid of $1.00 is required. The properties offered have no debts on them and are sold free and clear. A do-it-yourself title search should be sufficient for one of these farms.
I've seen several 26-acre parcels go for around $80 and larger tracts for $15 to $30 an acre at these sales. The only problem is that the best of these properties are sometimes unmapped, so you may not know exactly where they are.
John S. Hileman, Jr.
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